MANILA, Philippines – Japeth Aguilar shone on both ends of the floor in crunch time as the Barangay Ginebra Gin Kings claimed their first win of the 2016-17 PBA Philippine Cup at the expense of Rain or Shine, 81-74, on Sunday at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Aguilar finished with 23 points and 13 as the Gin Kings evened their record at 1-1, while handing the Elasto Painters their first loss of the conference.
Rain or Shine opened their All-Filipino Cup campaign with two straight wins, and the loss on Sunday denied them a chance to seize the solo lead. Instead, they fell into a five-team tie for second to sixth places along with Blackwater, Phoenix, San Miguel, and TNT KaTropa.
"This kind of game tonight, though it was a little bit ugly, it more closely represents what we need to do to be successful as a team," said Ginebra coach Tim Cone after the game. "We just need to get one under our belts. We don't want to start 0-2."
The Elasto Painters led, 70-64, with nine minutes to go, and were still on top by four points, 74-70, with four minutes left after a jump shot by Gabe Norwood over LA Tenorio.
However, the Gin Kings ended the game on an 11-0 run, with Sol Mercado tying the game, Joe Devance hitting the go-ahead jumper, and Aguilar coming through with a crucial shot to make it a four-point game with one minute left then doing enough to bother the shot attempts of the Elasto Painters on the other end.
Ginebra played stout defense as a team in the final four minutes of the game, walling off the paint and forcing Rain or Shine to take jump shots. Whenever they dared to drive to the hoop, Aguilar was there to meet them.
Rain or Shine missed its final 12 shots of the game, and finished the contest shooting only 26% from the field. They made only six of a whopping 41 three-point attempts, and further shot themselves in the foot by making only 16 of 23 free throw attempts.
"Rain or Shine has been playing great basketball," said Cone. "We wanted to come out and defend them, make it tough for them defensively. We achieved that goal."
Devance finished with 13 points and eight rebounds, and the Gin Kings managed to win the game despite bricking all 14 of their three-point attempts. However, they did shoot 57% from inside the arc to greatly help their cause.
Scottie Thompson had seven points, eight rebounds, and seven assists for another splendid all-around game, while Mercado finished with eight points, five rebounds, and four assists. Tenorio struggled from the field, missing all six of his shots, but had six helpers as the Gin Kings tallied 26 assists in the contest to only 11 for the Elasto Painters.
"Hopefully, we shoot the ball better as we go forward," said Cone. "But right now, we'll take these kinds of wins. These are the kind of games we have to play and win."
Raymond Almazan led Rain or Shine with 13 points and 15 boards, while James Yap added 10 markers. Beau Belga, booed all game long by the Ginebra fans, had seven points before fouling out with 47.8 seconds left.
GINEBRA 81 - Aguilar 23, Devance 13, Mercado 8, Thompson 7, Caguioa 6, Cruz 6, Helterbrand 4, Mariano 4, Tenorio 4, Ellis 2, Marcelo 2, Taha 2, Ferrer 0.
RAIN OR SHINE 74 - Almazan 13, Yap 10, Ahanmisi 9, Cruz 9, Belga 7, Washington 7, Norwood 6, Trollano 5, Chan 3, Tolomia 3, Ponferada 2.
Quarter scores: 24-21, 40-36, 58-62, 81-74
For more sports coverage, visit the ABS-CBN Sports website.
(LINK ON ABS-CBN Sports website : sports.abs-cbn.com)